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Becoming a doctor in Australia

How Long Does It Take to Become a Doctor in Australia?

by , 16 October, 2020
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I recently had a friend, who is a medical hopeful, ask me how long it takes to become a doctor in Australia. I write this blog reflectively after giving advice to this friend of mine, but also in the hope that it will give cause for reflection from you as well. With the number of applicants to medicine ever increasing, it is certainly getting more and more difficult (and somewhat longer!) to get into medical school, pass medical school, and then become a doctor. GAMSAT scores have increased, interviews have gotten harder, the strain of months of preparation to enter the profession can be overbearing, and that is not to mention the medical school journey itself!

There are two major paths of entry into medical school in Australia, through the ‘undergraduate route’, where students complete year 12 (with a very high score!), then can do a two-year bridging course at university, and then enter medicine; and the postgraduate entry. This postgraduate route is through taking the Graduate Medical Schools Admission Test (GAMSAT). This is a mammoth test that you can take as a post-graduate student (i.e. you have completed, or are about to complete, a Bachelor degree at university). There is a treasure trove of information on the GradReady website about GAMSAT, where the test is thoroughly dissected and explained. I recommend you take a look, starting here! ( Usually a bachelor’s degree (completed or nearly completed) will be enough to sit the GAMSAT, but keep in mind that some graduate programs require completion of first year subjects in anatomy, physiology and/or biochemistry (such as Monash University). You will typically sit the GAMSAT in one year, and if you are successful in this test, and then get through the interview and/or portfolio and other hurdles, you will hopefully be able to enter medical school the subsequent year.

Depending on the way you enter medical school, there are two types of medical degrees available in Australia: Five-year or six-year Undergraduate Bachelor degrees, and equivalent professional entry master’s level degree (usually called ‘MDs’ – though the undergraduate version may also be called this in some situations, and these are typically four years in length). The latter is the ‘postgraduate’ entry. The master’s qualification is, practically, not any different to a bachelor equivalent in medicine. The master’s version is arguably a marketing ploy of most Australia medical schools to allow them to market to international students and also charge international and domestic students master’s level costs for what is, effectively, an unchanged bachelor’s degree. For an example of some of the difference in costs, see our other blog article, Medical School Place Types and Changes to the Bonded Schemes.

Becoming a Medical Doctor in AustraliaBut, overall, you effectively have between 4-6 years in medical school to look forward to! Again, please refer to the GradReady website for some unique views on medical school, such as this blog article: Australian Medical Schools - Which one is best for me? Finally, after you graduate medical school, you still need to complete 1 year of internship in a public hospital before you can obtain full medical registration. During the final year of medical school, med students can choose their preferred hospital in which they would like to do their internship. After the internship, you are then FINALLY qualified to be a fully registered doctor! Overall, then, from prior to the GAMSAT until you finish your medical qualifications, it can take approximately up to eight (8) years! In this small blog, we have charted approximately eight years of your life, and because of the brevity of the discussion, I deeply encourage you to find the linked, additional resources to learn more! It is crucial that you adequately prepare for all stages in order to successfully come out the other side as a doctor. This blog has just given you a snapshot of the length of the journey; now it is up to you to jump in!

Want to become a doctor in Australia but not sure where to start? Studying for the GAMSAT exam is a good place to start. Check out our GAMSAT Study Syllabus which will help organise your studies and help you ace the exam!